DiDi Chuxing, China’s biggest ride-hailing provider, plans to relaunch its Hitch carpooling tool on a trial basis after serving a one-year suspension following the murders of two female passengers last year.
RELAUNCH OF HITCH
On Wednesday, Didi Chuxing announced that it will relaunch its Hitch carpooling service with added safety features.
The test will first roll out to users in seven Chinese cities at the end of this month.
From Nov 20, the trial will run in Harbin, Taiyuan, Shijiazhuang, Changzhou, Shenyang, Beijing and Nantong.
The trial will start with trips under 50 kilometers in metro areas between 5:00 am and 11:00 pm. Information service fees will be waived during the trial operation.
However, it has an earlier cutoff time for female users – letting them ride between 5:00 am and 8:00 pm.
According to DiDi’s announcement, the relaunch follows a comprehensive safety review and product revamp that began in 2018.
The redesigned service now features improved safety features, as well as more rigorous driver/passenger verification and rating mechanisms.
Besides, DiDi is piloting a women’s safety program with Hitch and other services as it says. Key features include:
Although DiDi says it’s for safety, the new rule that limits when female passengers can use the carpooling service has sparked controversy among users and netizens.
During the trial operation, female users will only be allowed to use the Hitch service between 5:00 am and 8:00 pm, while male users will be able to use it until 11:00 pm.
Enhanced risk analysis, alert and intervention models that identify high-risk scenarios and trip anomalies, and enable effective intervention;
A new in-app Safety Assistant that shows more detailed information on drivers and passengers, and offers real-time support from safety specialists.
Many netizens feel angry about it, considering the rule to be discriminatory and to infringe users’ rights.
Girls, you’d better go home before 8 pm
What if passengers get violated while using Express service? Will they be limited to use the service?
That’s discrimination against men. Male users could be scared too.
“It’s disgusting. I get the point. The root cause of sex crimes is that women go out at night,” said Weibo user.
“If the driver grabs money, do you want to tell the passengers not to take valuables with them?” wrote another.
“This is called discrimination,” raged a third.
It’s not about male or female
Responding to the criticisms on Weibo and other social media platforms, DiDi says the trial is only a part of the relaunch and the official launch plan will be continually improved based on the feedback.
The Hitch service first started in 2015 and had logged over a billion total rides and frequently clocked in up to two million daily orders, according to the company.
However, DiDi suspended the carpooling service last year after two female riders were murdered by its drivers in three months.
In May 2018, a young flight stewardess was found dead after hailing a DiDi Hitch ride in the central city of Zhengzhou.
In August that year, a driver was accused of raping and killing a female passenger in the eastern city of Wenzhou.
DiDi’s chairman Cheng Wei and its president Jean Liu issued a public letter of apology on Aug 28, 2018, saying DiDi would prioritize safety over growth after a second passenger in three months was allegedly murdered by a driver while using its services.
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SOURCE | DiDi / CNA / 红星新闻